Sunday, March 18, 2012


Garmin nuvi 40LM

Garmin nuvi 40LM

UPDATE: This model has been replaced by the nuvi 42LM (49 states) and nuvi 44LM (US + Canada).

The Garmin nüvi 40LM is a 4.3” navigator in Garmin’s new 2012 Essential series. The models in this series are meant to be basic navigators at a budget price, lower than what we’ve previously seen for Garmin entry-level models. Nevertheless, they do come with some features not previously found on low-end nuvis, such as speed limit display, lane assist and junction view. And the 40LM includes lifetime map updates.

Related units

  • Step up to the nuvi 50LM, to get the 40LM’s feature set but with a 5” screen
  • Going the other direction, drop down to the nuvi 40 and you’ll be giving up the lifetime maps updates
  • To see how the nuvi 40LM stacks up against other models, check out my Garmin nuvi comparison chart

Two versions

Two versions of the nuvi 40LM series are available – one with the entire US except for Alaska and Hawaii, and one for all 50 states plus Canada.

NOTE: Much of the following is taken from my hands on review of the nuvi 40, which is identical to the 40LM except that the latter includes lifetime map updates.

Key features

Generally speaking, all nuvis will get you from point A to point B; when you pay more, you’re primarily doing it to get bells and whistles. Nevertheless, the nuvi Essential series has some nice features. Here’s a look at several:

Speed limit display and warning

As noted above, the nuvi 40LM includes speed limit display. In my testing of the nuvi 40 series, I’ve seen speed limits not just on highways, but on many secondary roads as well.


And if you exceed the speed limit, the current speed field will turn red…


Lane Assist

The next turn icon in the top left corner highlights the proper lane to be in. You’ll primarily see this on freeways and on some surface streets in urban areas. Coverage is fairly extensive.


Junction View

The 40 series model I tested was a pre-production unit, and it did not have the Junction View .jcv file installed. Nevertheless, it is a listed feature for the Essential series, and should look something like this…


Customizable data fields/display

If you tap the lower left data field, you can customize what is displayed there. Different choices are offered for whether you are or are not navigating.

Want more info displayed? Go to Settings > Map, press the down arrow icon and select Map Data Layout > More Data, to get the setup shown below, giving you two extra data fields. Tap a data field to change what is displayed.


Trip Log

The trip log allows you to display where you’ve been (which can be a big help navigating mega-mall parking lots, and even in everyday city driving). The trip log is the thin blue line shown below.


There are options to Show or Hide this info, but unfortunately (unlike on other nuvis) there appears to be no way to clear the trip log short of a hard reset! Perhaps this is just an oversight that will be fixed in an upcoming firmware update; I’m certainly hoping Garmin hasn’t decided that privacy features should be limited to higher priced models!

Where am I?

Tapping the car/current location icon on the map brings up the Where Am I? screen, with the options shown below.


What’s missing?

Not much. There is no multi-destination routing (although you can add a single via point to a route) or powered mount, two popular options. The latter means that you’ll need to attach the mini-USB lead for the power cord each time you use the unit. Also, unlike other recent low-end models, you cannot add a traffic receiver. Here is Garmin’s rationale for this:

The nuvi 30, 40, and 50 series devices are not compatible with any traffic receiver or traffic service. Although these devices come with a variety of popular features, other features such as traffic compatibility have been left off so that we can provide our customers with the option of more basic devices at much lower price points.

Garmin nuvi 40 series performance

I noticed no routing irregularities while using the Garmin nuvi 40 series, nor did I notice excessively long waits for satellite acquisition. Except for the missing bells and whistles, it performed as well as my other nuvis. I did have trouble getting it to go into USB mass storage mode when connecting to my computer, but this was solved by ensuring that the unit was on before connecting it. And this issue went away entirely once I updated to firmware version 2.10. The only other item of note is that I found the mount a little awkward to clip the nuvi into at first, but after awhile I got used to how it attaches and rarely had problems with it.

Garmin nuvi 40LM pros

  • Low cost
  • Lifetime map updates
  • Speed limit display
  • Lane assist and junction view
  • Customization options

Garmin nuvi 40LM cons

  • No powered mount
  • Cannot add a traffic receiver
  • Can only hide Trip Log; cannot clear it without resorting to a hard reset
  • Only includes maps of 48 states (although a version that adds Alaska, Hawaii and Canada is also available)

Conclusion and recommendation

Highly recommended. This is without a doubt the best entry level navigator Garmin has ever released. It has a generous 4.3” wide screen along with features previously restricted to mid-range units. You can’t hardly go wrong with this one.

More Garmin nuvi 40LM reviews

I’ll be posting more hands on GPS reviews as they appear, but in the meantime, here are some…

Other Garmin nuvi 40LM resources

Compare prices on the Garmin nuvi 40LM at these merchants:

About Rich Owings

Rich is the owner, editor and chief bottle-washer for GPS Tracklog. Connect with him on Twitter, Facebook or Google Plus.


  1. Antonio Inácio de Athayde says:

    Comprei a cerca de 15 dias o GPS nuvi 40 LM . Simplesmente ele travou e não liga. Como resetar e começar de novo?

  2. Hi,

    Under cons, you have mentioned about no powered mount. i.e it operates only through batteries.

    But in amazon product details ,it mentions contains ‘vehicle power cable’

    Is my understanding wrong here ?


    • With a powered mount, the power cable plugs into the mount and you just clip the unit into the mount.

      With units like the 40LM, you have to connect the power cable to the unit each time you use it. It’s just a little less convenient.

  3. Gary Derbridge says:

    Just got a microSD with maps. For the life of me cannot figure out where/how to insert into the nuvi50. Cannot find directions on how to do. Manual is of no use. Suggestions?

    • It’s on the side.

      • Gary Derbridge says:

        Thanks Rich. Is there some kind of an adapter I need to buy so the card will fit? The card is too big.

        • Gary Derbridge says:

          Feel like an idiot! Just discovered that the micro card is inserted into the larger card and all i needed to do was pull it out. The instructions do state that but I had assumed they were referring to an adaptor that I didn’t have. Either i’m really dumb or it was not clear. The manual for the nuvi doesn’t even identify the slot for the card which to me they should.

  4. i had a nuvi 350 which was stolen from me can you recommend me which model to buy with the most usefull features i need usa & canada maps. i thing not to take lifetime traffic becuse the ads it have & they are not so accurate

  5. Estelle Odell says:

    No matter what I do, I keep getting message that “map data is not available” I have a 2012 nuvi40lm. Can you help?

  6. Guy Saults says:

    This was my second Garmin nuvi purchase. I own a 205 and decided to buy the 40LM for the lifetime maps.
    I found that the 40LM is far inferior to the 205 in navigation. My 40 suffers from SERIOUS routing irregularities — directing me to parking lots for abandoned buildings, failing to get me closer that half a mile from a known destination (the Five Guys in Chantilly, VA), and it routed me from Centreville, VA to Chantilly through MANASSAS!!! This detour was five times longer than the trip should have taken and the 40LM repeatedly misdirected me through a college campus, down back roads and through neighborhoods. The Manassas battlefield at night is very nice, but I really wanted to be back in my hotel.
    After another map update, the 40LM performed well on a first part of my trip to Gatlinburg, but coming home I needed to detour off I75 due to a fatal wreck. The 40LM performed so poorly that I finally had to stop and buy a map.

    I just RMA’d the unit because it died — the device stopped charging on another trip, leaving me dependent on my smart phone’s GPS. I hope the replacement performs better.

    And yes I updated maps… immediately upon receipt of the device and then again when a new update became available.

  7. GuySaults says:

    Yeah. If you look at a map the only thing that explains it is serious navigation errors. This was not an isolated incident.

  8. Thorsten Nielsen says:

    My 40 LM should have 49 of the US states, but now I’m in California and it only shows 34 states. California is not one of them, what do I do?

  9. I had the same problem with back roads and found it was because it was set for shortest route instead of shortest time. It made a huge difference. It also left me far from the actual destinations. More than once it has left me 50-100 yards from the actual destination. It this normal or do more expensive units get you closer?

  10. Lynda Steichen says:

    After owning and using the Garmin Nuvi 40 LM for several years, suddenly I can’t update maps. Can you suggest something?


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